I’ve written something about the mentality the allows someone to push on when others would stop and spent long tired hours contemplating how it is that we can keep moving when really, by the popular consensus we should have quit, stopped and returned.
Earlier in the year I wrote a post about a moment of realisation that seemed to changed my whole approach and outlook to getting myself outside my comfort zone. The below is a small section of it, and probably the most important sections…
“Yet, at some point I made the conscious decision to go in. It is easier to be in a dark place and stare up at the light than it is to stand out of reach of the dark and wander what demons lurk within.
Gradually, this dark place began to fill with light. Where once there were undefined shapes of forbidding, there now stands figures of encouraging challenge. The way out is easy to find, no longer a distant star, but more a beaming beacon. The euphoria of reaching a stop point was simply the realisation that it is possible to sink lower than you imagined and then rise out. I am no longer ashamed or fearful of this dark place.
Here’s something I’ve recently clocked on to, without being nebulous…
I tweeted that I was likely to fail in my next challenge (a winter BGR in sandals), but since its for a good cause I’d take it on. It’s been something I’ve wanted to try for the last 2 years and after supporting a friend on the route in summer, I’ve become slightly obsessed with it, or more accurately fallen in love with the stupidity of the UK rounds.
For those that don’t know, the UK rounds involve long distances, lots of peaks and the main national parks of the UK. All of them have ridiculous amounts of ascent, are ultra distances, involved as many peaks as you can grab and require lots of navigation and outdoor skills. This is all before you consider the fitness needed and the mentality that goes hand in hand with these challenges. There are 3 big rounds in the UK that I’m fascinated by, mostly because of the mental aspect. How does a person cope mentally with such a challenge?
This is where the tweet reply from Ricky comes in….
At some point along the way, I seem to have embraced the philosophy that I was so interested in when I was at the end of my university degree, and even more interested in when I went back to college to try my hand at photography.
It’s a simple concept.
When faced with adversity you should embrace failure before you even begin. But this seems to completely counter what we are told about positive mental attitude. Think about it happening, see yourself being successful and you will be. The thing is, it’s an oddly peaceful mental state to get into. As soon as you acknowledge the failure and embrace it, a sense of indifference seems to roll over you. You aren’t worried about failing. It’s almost as though the failure doesn’t exist. The same happens with the thoughts of success. They seem to disintegrate as you develop the same sense of indifference to the idea of finishing successfully.
What is there left if your indifferent to it all? Well, its an odd sense of nothingness, where you simply act as is needed. You develop a strange sense of purpose that drives you forwards, regardless of pain, tiredness or injury. Most importantly, you act as you need to act, freed from the usual constraints that inform or shape our decisions when involved in challenges.
I am a fan of the phrase “endeavour to cultivate stupidity” because for me it embodies this attitude to challenges. I will be starting a whole new part of my little adventure, and it will be interesting to see what happens, but for now, I’m going to focus on getting in the right frame of mind to complete probably the hardest physical challenge of my life…
The Bob Graham round, and I will do it to raise awareness of the fundraising that the Cumbrian Foundation are doing. So, if you wish to help you can get involved in one of the following ways: